Goa vs Chennaiyin: Preview and Prediction
An action-packed saga of the Durand Cup quarter-final stages has begun as all surviving eight sides are ready to storm into the knockouts eying to grab the penultimate round qualification.
The aspiration to achieve the glory of Asia’s oldest existing football competition has brought the two familiar foes Goa and Chennaiyin onto the same battlefield. The third quarterfinal bout will be hosted by Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium which will also be the last fixture of the 2023 edition at this venue.
After fielding their developmental squad in the title-defense campaign in 2022, the Gaurs went on to name a full-strength roster and are also considered the favorites to win this edition.
Manolo Marquez made his debut as the Goan gaffer with a thumping 6-0 triumph over Shillong Lajong and delivered a statement that he will carry forward the club’s signature style of aggressive football. The champions of 2021 have always struggled to make it through the group stages and the only time they successfully did it previously, they went on to claim the prestigious title.
Chapter Two of ‘The Owen Coyle Era’ with Marina Machans has been kick-started in a thumping way as the Boys in Blues are thriving on an invincible record. The 57-year-old Scottish gaffer has brought back his methods of attentive approach and the Chennai Blues are seemingly enjoying the diligent playstyle.
After being knocked out by the eventual runners-up Mumbai City in the quarter-finals of 2022, Chennaiyin is determined to make their first-ever semi-final appearance.
Following an emphatic 6-0 victory in the opening fixture, Goa was pushed down by the hosts NorthEast United for a 2-2 settlement in the very next game. Manolo fielded an experimental lineup in the last group game with Downtown Heroes and still ended up on the winning side of a 3-0 saga at Guwahati. The Gaurs are enduring a threatening goal-scoring form after netting a whopping number of 11 goals and conceding just three in their group-stage campaign.
Along with Mumbai City, Chennaiyin is among the only two sides who have barged into the knock stages by claiming all nine points from three games of the group stage. Marina Machans’ Durand Cup campaign had an eventful start as they conceded a penalty goal in just the fourth minute of their opening clash against Hyderabad. However, the Tamil Nadu-based outfit eventually defeated the southern rivals and sealed the quarter-final berth by crushing the Tribhuvan Army and Delhi on the way.
These two ISL heavyweights have been indulged in a fierce rivalry to establish their supremacy in the Indian top-flight league ever since its inception. They have faced each other on 23 occasions across all club competitions till now and the head-to-head record is dominated by the Gaurs with a scoreline of 13-8 while two encounters could not produce any results.
The intensity of this rivalry peaked when both of these combatants made it to the finals of the 2015 Indian Super League season where the Chennai Blues claimed their maiden club honor. Despite trailing by 2-1 in the 87th minute, the Marina Machans pulled off an exceptional comeback and enlightened rage in the hearts of Gaur supporters.
The Margao-based club emerged victorious in the first encounter of the 2022-23 ISL season, while Kwame Karikari’s brace in the returning fixture at Fatorda helped the Marina Machans to avenge the earlier loss. Noah Sadaoui was directly involved in all three goals netted by the Orangers as the Moroccan magician bagged two goals and a solitary assist.
Manolo entrusted his young guns for the final group fixture and came up with seven changes in his Starting XI to take on Downtown Heroes. Only four players Odei Onaindia, Rowllin Borges, Carlos Martinez and Udanta Singh managed to retain their places while the captain’s armband was also handed to 25-year-old local lad Leander D’Cunha. The Goan team management is expected to get back to their full-strength mode and only keep Noah Sadaoui along with other regular starters in the lineup.
On the other hand, Owen Coyle also made seven changes in order to test his bench strength for the last group game which had lesser significance over their future in this competition. The first-choice goalie Samik Mitra made his first start of this Durand Cup season but is unlikely to keep ahead of Debjit Majumdar who performed well in the first two games. Coyle fielded an unchanged XI for the second fixture and is expected to field the same lineup in this forthcoming clash as well.
Predicted Starting XIs
Goa (4-2-3-1): Dheeraj Singh; Seriton Fernandes, Odei Onaindia, Sandesh Jhingan, Saviour Gama; Raynier Fernandes, Rowllin Borges; Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes ©, Noah Sadaoui; Carlos Martinez
Chennaiyin (4-2-3-1): Debjit Majumder; Ajith Kumar, Ankit Mukherjee, Bikash Yumnam, Aakash Sangwan; Jiteshwor Singh, Ayush Adhikari; Rahim Ali, Farukh Choudhary, Connor Shields; Jordan Murray ©
This is going to be the first high-profile clash of this season for both of these clubs and will be the ultimate test of their preparations for the upcoming ISL campaign. Goa has slightly brighter chances of emerging victorious in this contest considering their extensive goal-scoring record. Chennaiyin has showcased a great display of defending throughout the group saga however, their young defensive unit still remains untested against a star-studded attack.